World Cancer Day 2022: February 4th is marked as World Cancer Day to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment. Primary goal of World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce the illness and death caused by cancer.
Disease ‘cancer’ is generally associated with sense of helplessness, frustration and fear of death. One of the important reasons for this is misconception that cancer is incurable. While this may be true for cancers detected in advanced stages (Stage IV), those diagnosed in early stages and a few cancers even in advanced stages have fairly good chance of cure. Compare this to hypertension and diabetes which are incurable – only controlled by medication and alteration in life style.
The incidence of cancer is on the rise; this is due to combination of factors such as changing life style, dietary habits, lack of physical activity and increasing life expectancy. Tobacco abuse, in any form, is the most important cause and risk factor for many cancers – but importantly for cancer of the oral cavity, voice box, lungs and food pipe.
Following are preventive measures for reducing the risk of cancer
- Avoiding tobacco abuse in all forms
- Regular physical activity – to maintain healthy weight
- Regular consumption of vegetables and fruits
- Avoid Alcohol
- Protecting skin
- Regular health check up
Early diagnosis is just as important as prevention to get best results in cancer. Awareness about cancer in is key to early diagnosis. Some of the warning signs are
- Cough – not responding to routine treatment
- Blood in sputum, stools or urine
- Inter menstrual and post menopausal bleeding
- Lump in breast
- Lumps any where in body – particularly if there is sudden increase in size
- non healing wound
- bleeding from gums
- Change in voice – not responding to routine treatment
- excessive weight loss and loss of appetite
Screening for cancer is advocated for early diagnosis and reducing deaths from cancer in following circumstances
- Breast cancer screening with breast self examination, annual physical examination by a nurse or a physician and sono mammography after age of 45 years
- Colonoscopy in people who are at high risk of cancer of large intestine
- Low dose CT scan for smokers
- Serum PSA for cancer of prostate after age 50 – after discussing with urologist
(Dr Rajesh Mistry, Director, Oncology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Mumbai)
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